Union finds pay discrimination at LA Times

A report by the new journalists’ union at the Los Angeles Times finds that women and journalists of color at the newspaper are under paid.

Last January, the Times journalist voted to form a union and bargain collectively with their employer.

In order to prepare for its first negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement, the union, the LA Times News Guild-CWA, requested pay data from the Time’s owner Tribune Online Content, better known as Tronc.

After reviewing the data, the union issued a report on its findings.

A summary of the report states that “Tronc has underpaid women and journalists of color by thousands of dollars a year at the Los Angeles Times, suggesting systemic salary gaps by race and gender.”

The union released the report last week to its members, and it angered employees in the newsroom.

“I’ve long thought (the Times) underpays women and people of color. But to see the numbers in this (union) report is infuriating,” tweeted a Latina employee.

“It’s so grim to be able to mathematically quantify exactly how much my company undervalues me and dozens of my talented, hardworking coworkers,” tweeted another female employee.

The union received pay information for 323 newsroom employees in the newly created bargaining unit, which includes reporters, photographers, copy editors, designers, and other newsroom employees.

After analyzing the data, the union found that on average women in the Times newsroom are paid 70 percent of what their male counterparts are paid.

The report examined pay for people working in similar jobs, and noted that with a few exceptions pay disparities exist in all job classifications.

For example, the average reporter’s salary is about $95,000, but the average female reporter’s salary is $87,564 and the average reporter of color’s salary is $85,622.

Some of the pay gap can be explained by the age and experience levels of the Times employees.

Because of past hiring practices and other employer decisions, most of the better paid, longer tenured employees at the Times newsrooms are white males.

But, notes the union, this is only a partial explanation of the pay gap.

After comparing salary data for people in the same job classification with the same level of experience, states the report, we “found (that there are) scores of individual women and journalists of color who, on average, make thousands of dollars less than white and male co-workers of similar ages and job titles.”

Employees responding to the report said that discrimination at the Times goes back before Tronc bought the paper.

“Let’s be clear, this is not a problem created by Tronc,” tweeted a Latina employee. “This is the result of a culture in the newsroom that undervalues women and people of color, especially those hired through the Metpro program and then tasks those same reporters with working some of the toughest stories.”

Tronc describes its Metpro program as “a unique program designed to help beginning journalists launch careers and boost diversity at the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune (another paper owned by Tronc where journalists are organizing a union).

Tronc will likely not own the Times for very much longer.

In February, Tronc announced that it had sold the Times for $500 million to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles biotech entrepreneur.

That sale is still pending, but Soon-Shiong visited the Times newsroom last Friday to share his vision of what the Times should be with newsroom staff.

It’s not clear whether he had anything to say about the union’s report.

From the start of its organizing campaign, union supporters have stated that one of their main goals was to fight pay discrimination in the newsroom.

In a letter written last October to fellow newsroom staffers, members of the union organizing committee said that winning “equal pay for men and women and equal pay for journalists of color” was one of its main goals.

The union said that it plans to follow up on the findings in the recent report.

“The findings shed light on why the Los Angeles Times unionized after 136 years. We’re a stronger newsroom when we look out for each other. We will be meeting with our members soon to discuss this report and what should come next,” said the union in its summary of the report.

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